A trend towards larger homes is starting to emerge as multi-generational living gains traction, with buyers seeking properties of upwards of 1000 square meters that are ideal for extended families.
"We are definitely seeing more families buying larger homes to accommodate different generations under one roof as a way of sharing the financial load of a bond and everyday household expenses," says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond. According to StatsSA data (2020), just over 45% of households are double generational - with parents and children living together, while almost 15% span three generations.
"The pandemic highlighted the importance of having family close by, and it's likely that these StatsSA numbers have increased in recent months because of economic challenges. Instead of having to travel to grandparents or visit them in an old-age home, many families realise the financial, emotional and lifestyle benefits of having their parents with them on the same property," says Coetzee.
Sharing the financial load of household expenses has always been one of the main drawcards of multi-generational living. "With rising household costs, this has become even more pertinent. Sharing food, electricity and utility costs provides welcome relief to families," says Coetzee. South Africa's high unemployment rate has also seen more young people opting to stay at home with their parents until they are financially independent.
According to BetterBond's application data for June, the average household income has increased by 14.05% year-on-year, due in part to the combination of incomes as more than one generation contributes to the bond. "We have also seen an increase in the average purchase price of homes - up 7.4% year-on-year at the end of June, and a 6% increase in the average bond size as combined household incomes make larger homes more accessible," says Coetzee.
Aside from the financial benefits, multi-generational living provides support and opportunities all-round. Grandchildren benefit from the gift of spending quality time with their grandparents learning skills like woodwork, crafts or baking. Grandparents enjoy a renewed sense of purpose as they can help with childcare. Increasingly, they are also gaining digital skills from their tech-savvy children and grandchildren.
While for the younger generation, there is comfort in knowing that there is a support structure in place at home; especially if both parents work. Children living with their parents at the start of their working lives can focus on building their careers and contributing to household expenses, until they are able to afford a home of their own.
"Many hands make light work, so having more than one family on a property helps with home maintenance, household chores and other tasks. Also, with more than one family on the property, the home is unlikely to be unoccupied for extended periods of time, making it more secure," adds Coetzee.
This is not to say that multi-generational living does not have its challenges. "Privacy and independence can be a concern, so make sure that there are separate entrances, if possible." Allow everyone space and time to pursue their own interests outside of the broader family unit. Larger properties that allow for a communal area for the family to gather, as well as space within the home to enjoy time alone, are best suited to multi-generational living.
"As with any living arrangement, there are pros and cons to consider. It's advisable to have an agreement in writing that outlines everyone's financial responsibilities and obligations," adds Coetzee. "But in the long run, the emotional and financial benefits make a strong case for multi-generational living, if done with care."